I am cross-posting this entry from my new friend, Greta’s, blog. Greta has created a wonderful blog series of guest posts called Great Expectations. You should go read them, the women who have posted are fascinating and so very diverse. I was honored when Greta asked me to contribute, and the following post was published on her blog last week.
My Great Expectations…
I had it all planned out. I expected to finish college at 21, become a successful journalist by 22, get married at 23, and have a daughter at 27. I made this plan when I was 15. I’m not really sure what spurred me to choose the ages I did in my Big Plan, but they sounded completely realistic at the time.
The first change to the Big Plan came when I met my future husband at 16, and I assumed we would get married one day. So, I left for college (he came too) and got married at 20. While I was in my Sophomore year, I changed my expectation of becoming a Great Journalist to going in to public relations (a much better fit, as it turned out). I graduated college just before my 23rd birthday (it turned out that I couldn’t take as many classes as I expected while working almost full time).
Then the really big changes to both my Big Plan and Big Expectations happened. Because, after being married for a year or so, I figured out that my husband was an alcoholic. So, there wouldn’t be any babies for us until he got sober. He was a wonderful man, and I loved him and was committed to him and our marriage; but, I wouldn’t commit another person to that.
I went off birth control at 27 because I expected that he would stay sober. I mean, he went through rehab, so you *have* to stay sober after that, right? At least that’s what I expected. Not so much. But he did stay sober long enough for me to get pregnant. And I expected great things for that baby. But then the baby stopped growing. And Mark started drinking again.
It took another year and a half for Mark to get sober for good and for me to get pregnant. In that time, I never expected to make a group of friends on the Internet who would keep me sane in the years to come.
So, a few years after I expected in my Big Plan to have a daughter, I had my first baby at 30 years old. A baby boy. He wasn’t what I was expecting, but he was perfection.
It’s probably good that my original Big Plan ended at 27 years old, because there is no way I would have expected or planned for the years from 30 on. Because I didn’t expect Mark to get sick in August 2005 and die in November 2005. You don’t expect your husband to die at 33. You don’t expect to become a first-time Mom and a Widow in the same year. It isn’t in the Big Plan.
I didn’t expect those Internet friends and the friends in my offline world to become as important to me as my blood family. I didn’t expect it, but I wouldn’t have survived without it.
When I stopped by my friend Angela’s house about a year later, I didn’t expect her to be home. But I am so very glad she was. Because Angela hatched her own Big Plan that afternoon. She expected me to love her brother and for her brother to love me. She expected that he and I would match each other’s humor and interests and values. She expected that he would love my son like a biological father.
I didn’t expect any of those things. I expected to go on a few dates with him to make Angela happy and to get out of the house. I didn’t expect to fall in love with him so quickly…or to be so scared of that feeling.
My Big Plan didn’t include getting married at both 20 and almost-34. My Big Plan didn’t include having another boy just before my 35th birthday.
I didn’t expect to live in the dual world of widows where you can be deliriously happy and guilty about that happiness because you feel like you are cheating on the dead husband. After Mark died, I expected to be a single mother for the rest of my life. It would be easier, right?
I’m so glad that life didn’t follow my Big Plan and didn’t try to take the easy way. My Big Plan didn’t make allowances for messiness. And it didn’t allow for other people’s influence. Thank goodness.
My life didn’t go as I expected, but despite the sadness and challenges, I can’t say I would change any of it.